Formation of magnetic nanoparticle chains in bacterial systems

Abstract

Several organisms possess a genetic program enabling them to form a mineral, a process termed biomineralization. The structure and composition of biominerals equip the biomineralizing organisms with functionalities that abiotic materials made of the same mineral do not necessarily possess. Even primary organisms such as bacteria are able to produce materials with properties superior to those of human-made equivalents. Magnetotactic bacteria represent a paradigm of such microorganisms. These organisms synthesize a hierarchical one-dimensional magnetic nanostructure based on the alignment of magnetosomes—organelles embedded in a vesicle dedicated to biomineralization and made of magnetic nanoparticles (magnetite (Fe3O4) or greigite (Fe3S4)). This article focuses on factors that play a role in the organization of these magnetosomes. The chains, which are based on aligned particles that have biologically controlled ultrastructure, size, morphology, organization, and orientation, serve as actuators and area means to align the bacteria with the Earth’s magnetic field lines when they swim in search of particular habitats in the aqueous environments they live in.

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Acknowledgements

D.F. thanks the past and present members of his group as well as all collaborators for their help with the research on magnetotactic bacteria. Arash Komeili and Dirk Schüler are acknowledged for their introduction to the world of magnetotactic bacteria. Thanks to Peter Fratzl for his help in the establishment of the author’s research group at the MPI of Colloids and Interfaces. Financial support from the Max Planck Society, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SPP 1420 (FA 835/2), SPP 1569 (FA 835/5), SPP 1726 (FA 835/7), and individual projects (BO 1762/5, FA 835/9, FA 835/10)), from the European Union (Project Bi02MaN4MRI n°245542 and Nanoathero n°305312), from COST (n°0902), and the European Research Council (Starting Grant MB2 n°256915) is acknowledged.

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Faivre, D. Formation of magnetic nanoparticle chains in bacterial systems. MRS Bulletin 40, 509–515 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1557/mrs.2015.99

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